court order Archives | Eviction Lawyers South Africa

Students go home

Students can be evicted from res to make way for new intake, SCA rules

By | Eviction news, Evictions, PIE, Student evictions

Reprinted from News24, by Jenni Evans – 2023-07-05

  • The SCA handed down an important ruling relating to whether students can be evicted from university-supplied accommodation. 
  • The judges found that this type of accommodation is finite and students are expected to leave when they have finished studying. 
  • They found that the students came from a home and would have a home to go to, students should yield their rooms to the next intake.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled on Monday that students can be evicted from university-provided accommodation if they refuse to leave, because they would have a home elsewhere.

The court found on appeal that student accommodation is meant to be temporary to help them get their education, and when they have completed their studies, they must move out for incoming students to get the benefit.

This comes after an application for leave to appeal a ruling made by the Western Cape High Court in favour of 90 students who opposed their evictions from New Market Junction, owned by Stay at South Point properties.

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in Cape Town contracted Stay at South Point Properties to provide accommodation for the students, and during the Covid-19 pandemic, the students refused to vacate when their exams finished at the end of 2020, ignoring notices to leave.

Eleven students were allowed to remain in their accommodation for the 2021 academic year, but they were asked to move out to alternative accommodation provided by the property company for maintenance and cleaning at the main site. This group also refused to leave.

The property company had security guards remove them on 12 January 2021. The occupants resisted. The property company asked the Western Cape High Court for an eviction order, which was refused because it was not brought under the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (PIE).

The property company appealed to the SCA, arguing that PIE would not apply in this case because student residences are not the students’ permanent home. They came from a home to go to university, and if they were evicted, they would have a home to go to.

All of the occupants have since left, but the parties agreed that the matter should be settled in law anyway, given the “recurring controversy” around accommodation at CPUT.

In the judgment, the SCA explained that PIE is in line with Section 26 of the Constitution and provides that no one should be evicted from their homes without an order of court made after considering all relevant circumstances.

The bench found that PIE usually involves the occupation of land, but it is also meant to protect against homelessness.

The court found that if the occupation of land does not constitute the home of an occupier, PIE does not apply and if they can’t show they will be rendered homeless, the protection of S26 does not apply.

The judges said the students come from homes to study at the university, and unless otherwise shown, student accommodation does not displace them or replace the homes they came from.

The court found:

And hence, logically, the respondents have homes other than the residence. There is then no basis to seek the protection of PIE. Eviction does not render the students homeless.

They are intended to stay in the accommodation for a “finite time” to help them study at the university, and their student accommodation is meant to be temporary and transitory. 

“Students who are assisted by CPUT with accommodation are well aware that this valuable benefit is of limited duration,” the judges said.

“Those who are fortunate enough to benefit from accommodation provided by CPUT know full well that each and every year, new students come to the university who legitimately look to the university for the very assistance that the respondents enjoyed.

“Equity requires that those who have had the benefit of accommodation should yield to those who have not. And nothing about the position of the respondents suggests that this equitable principle should not continue to apply.

“It [student accommodation] is a residence, of limited duration, for a specific purpose, that is time-bound by the academic year, and that is, for important reasons, subject to rotation.”

The court ruled that PIE does not apply, and the Western Cape High Court’s refusal to grant the eviction order was wrong, so the appeal must be upheld.

However, there is no order for eviction because the respondents have already left.

For help with rental issues

At SD Law, we are a law firm of specialist eviction lawyers in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. We help both landlords and tenants with rental housing matters, including reaching mutually acceptable agreements regarding rent and other conditions of occupancy. If you need assistance with a dispute or want advice on any aspect of rental housing or landlord–tenant relations, contact one of our eviction attorneys on 086 099 5146 or simon@sdlaw.co.za.

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illegal occupation

COCT’s Smith slams contradictory court rulings on illegal land occupation

By | Eviction news, PIE

Safety and Security Mayco member JP Smith has taken issue with the prevention of illegal eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act – for preventing the city from curbing illegal occupations.

Reprinted from Eyewitness News – 2023-05-19

CAPE TOWN – City Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, has slammed the Western Cape High Court for handing down contradictory rulings.

Smith has singled out the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, known as the PIE Act, for preventing the city from curbing illegal occupation of property and land in Cape Town.

He highlighted a recent court ruling related to the illegal occupation of property in Tennant Street, District Six.

Smith said that at the end of April, a court ruling instructed the city to apply its by-laws to remove squatters from the property.

He said that this was a contradiction to previous rulings when the court curbed the city from implementing its by-laws.

“So we are finding these very contradictory rulings from the court. During the COVID regulations, this environment was enabled. People were allowed to put up structures and we were prohibited from removing them.”

Head of Ndifuna Ukwazi’s Law Centre, Disha Govender, said that the solution was not law enforcement but an attitude of care and building well-located affordable housing.

“With respect, the focus should not be about by-laws but about what genuinely needs to be done to ensure that all citizens are protected and have a harmonious and safe environment to live in.”

For further information

Simon Dippenaar & Associates, Inc. is a Cape Town law firm of specialist eviction lawyers, now operating in Johannesburg and Durban, helping both landlords and tenants with the eviction process. Contact one of our eviction attorneys on 086 099 5146 or simon@sdlaw.co.za if you are concerned about unlawful eviction or if you need advice on the eviction process.

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Court clears city on informal settlement evictions amid lockdown

By | Eviction news, Eviction orders, Homeless

By Karen Singh

Durban – eThekwini Municipality welcomed the decision by the Durban High Court to dismiss Abahlali BaseMjondolo’s application to stop evictions in informal settlements during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Durban eviction lawyers

Members and supporters of Abahlali baseMjondolo movement SA Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)

Evictions have been ongoing at the Ekuphumeleni settlement in Mariannhill and the Azania settlement in Cato Manor over the last few weeks.

This is despite calls by the shack dwellers movement for the city to place a moratorium on evictions during the 21-day lockdown.

The municipality said they were pleased with the judgment, saying the application was full of disinformation which had sought to tarnish the city’s image.

Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the Metro Police had, on numerous occasions, urged Abahlali to refrain from encouraging and condoning land invasions. He said land invasions were rife in the city, and they were a hindrance to much-needed service delivery.

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said he was happy the municipality had been vindicated by the court.

However, he said it was unfortunate that while the country was battling the spread of Covid-19, some groupings were trying to capitalise on the situation.

Kaunda urged those involved to respect the laws of the country.

“As this sphere of government, we will unwaveringly clamp down on any unlawful conduct, including land invasion,” he said.

Kaunda said resources had been mobilised to provide shelter for over 4000 homeless people across the city.

He said the city had ensured that they met the needs of all residents living in informal settlements, hostels and transit camps to protect them against contracting the virus.

“Why would we then demolish shacks that are occupied by the poorest of the poor? We still maintain that shacks that were demolished recently, were unoccupied, some of which were partially built, and we acted within the ambit of the law,” said Kaunda.

He said against all odds, the city would eventually restore the dignity of all residents in informal settlements whether affiliated to Abahlali or not.

“Residents are called upon to report to the authorities without fail, any signs of land invasion, where they rear their ugly heads,” said Mayisela.

Abahlali leader S’bu Zikode said they were disappointed by the outcome of the application, and were worried about what would happen as the lockdown continues.

“People are really scared. They don’t know what will happen tonight, or tomorrow, or the next day. We all fear that there will be more violence,” said Zikode.

He said the situation they suddenly found themselves in was very uncertain, as it was unusual not to win an application for an interdict against evictions.

Zikode said the judge was not convinced that the shacks were occupied despite photographs showing beds, mattresses and other furniture scattered between destroyed shacks.

“We cannot accept that people can be subjected to state violence or made homeless under any circumstances, but state violence and evictions became particularly urgent during this time of a worldwide health crisis in which impoverished people are most at risk,” said Zikode.

Zikode said Abahlali would focus all their energy on finding ways to keep organising in the face of violence from a “gangster” municipality.

Source: IOL (emphasis by SD Law*)

* SD Law is a law firm of specialised Durban eviction attorneys. Contact us at sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za for help with Durban evictions.

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